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Hostility towards online worlds

October 12, 2009

In today’s “Online Worlds and Social Networking” seminars we discussed Boellstorff’s (2008) ethnography of Second Life. I found myself in the strange position of having to defend Second Life from some students’ dismissal of this 3D online environment. A number of seminar participants dismissed Second Life as merely ‘a game’ and/or as the preserve of loners escaping to a fantasy world. Before I knew it, I was defending the anthropological immersion in other worlds and the need to avoid prejudging the alien ways of others. This was not something I had anticipated I would have to do.

In fact, one thing that Boellstorff does very well in this monograph is show that complex virtual worlds like Second Life must be understood on their own terms. This requires that we switch off our prejudgments and invest some time in learning about what makes virtual residents tick. As always with anthropological fieldwork, if it matters to the natives, then it matters to the researcher.

At any rate, it was good day in the office, and I look forward to further discussions. Thanks to all seminar participants for getting me thinking about these complex issues (which are by no means settled).

One Comment leave one →
  1. Xwenn permalink
    October 21, 2009 4:34 am

    I think I have been (experienced being) keeping me nose into video games as one of those escapism excuses.. It does seem that there are those who already have a pre-input/exposure to games as one of those means. Especially when there’re those who often play those current MMORPGs. Even more so, when other people (neighbors and such) rarely meet with that particular gamer in real-life, and thus gained such perception that gamers ~> social neglect.

    Although, I do agree on the part where some social games like Second Life can be another means of keeping in touch with others across the globe, since it is using the internet which is another communication form.
    I think that there are people who think that social networking -> Twitter and Facebook and things like that. So, is it because of the part where games like Second Life is run real-time that gave some of these people such perception?

    Forgive me, for I’m not much of typing person or somebody who dares to speak its mind off, nor do I have the knowledge so speaking such.

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